One united voice, for the wolves who have been betrayed

  • by: Terrence Moyer
  • target: To the President of the United States, Congresspersons, and the Secretary of the Interior
Designed to tell our elected officials just how we feel about their decision to use politics and not science in their decision to delist gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act.  To bring awareness of the benefits of a balanced ecosystem allowing all forms of plant and animal to coexist naturally as they are intended.
To  the people who will not be silenced, the people who will stand tall and make a difference.  Please let your voice be heard and thank you for your support in this pressing matter.  I intend on sending this letter to all members of congress, the president and the Sec. of Interior.  
April 14, 2011
President Obama, Members of Congress and Secretary of the Interior Salazar,
Let it be known, that on this day, April 14, 2011, a major travesty has taken place and will forever affect my confidence in this nation and its intentions towards the environment.  I speak of the bill that just passed to fund the government, which by itself was necessary to continue funding the interests of this country, but also included something that had nothing to do with the budget at all.  I am referring to Title VII, Sec. 1713, pg. 290 of Making appropriations for the Department of Defense and  the other departments and agencies of the Government for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, and for other purposes, which removes the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act.  
The underhanded move by Sec. Tester and Rep. Simpson to add this language to a must pass legislation is against everything I thought this country was founded on.  The fact that, for political, personal, or whatever their reason, the onslaught of hatred and outright discrimination of the gray wolf has caused this action, and is by far the most despicable and unforgivable abuse of power I have ever seen.  The legal battle of the de-listing of the gray wolf has been playing out for a long time and has been ruled by a federal court in August 2010.  Federal Judge Donald Molloy has interpreted the law as it was written, keeping this species protected under the Endangered Species Act.  In a 50-page decision, Molloy said "the rule delisting the gray wolf (in Montana and Idaho) must be set aside because, though it may be a pragmatic solution to a difficult biological issue, it is not a legal one."  The language of the ESA clearly states the use of proper current science to determine when a species is recovered.  By their own admission, the powers that be have not conducted any 5 year surveys on the species, as required in the ESA, (Sec. 4, pg. 230 of Endangered Species Act of 1973) in the years since they were listed under the ESA and the science used to determine a viable genetic population is over a decade old.  
 Where is the science in hiding a bill rider to de-list a species?  It has never been done before where our own congress has to debate about delisting any species and it is not their place to make that decision.  This is, in my eyes, unlawful as it is written in the ESA.  After protections were restored to the grey wolf by Judge Molloy, two Governors (Montana Gov. Brian Schwitzer and Idaho Gov. %u201CButch%u201D Otter) defied federal law, telling officials in their states to not investigate the poaching of a protected species defying a federal mandate to provide do just that. In the letter sent to Sec. Salazar on October 18, 2010, Gov. Butch Otter stated, "... the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) will not perform statewide monitoring for wolves, conduct investigations into illegal killings, provide state law enforcement in response to illegal takings or implement the livestock depredation response program."  The Idaho Governor then went on to announce this statement on many different forms of media throughout Idaho, with the intention of spurring on poachers because there will be no consequences if they happened to kill a gray wolf.  Then a few months later, Gov. Schweitzer spoke out to the media and sent a letter to Sec. Salazar stating, "I am directing FWP to respond to any livestock depredation by removing whole packs that kill livestock, wherever this may occur.  Still further, to protect the elk herds in Montana's Bitterroot Valley that have been most adversely affected by wolf predation, I am directing FWP, to the extent allowed by the Endangered Species Act, to cull these wolves by whole-pack removal to enable elk herds to recover."  After that media frenzy, they continue to push for the grey wolf to be removed from the ESA by writing bills for Congress to debate on, and each one has been rejected.  
The amount of scientific study that shows how the gray wolf is benefiting the ecosystems in which they reside is a clear fact to the benefit of protecting the species across more states than just Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.  With populations now being established in Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, and North Dakota, the need for protections is still real.  The ESA states that the species must be shown to be recovered across all or a significant portion of its original range to be considered recovered.  The gray wolf had once roamed from coast to coast, from the arctic, all the way to what is now Mexico and beyond.  So to state that the species is recovered is nothing more than a violation of the ESA.  Any such delisting is required to be published, and the opportunity for public comment be given.  Where is our comment period for a rider on a budget bill that removes the gray wolf from the ESA?
In addition to the removal of the gray wolf from the ESA, there is a stipulation that proclaims there will  be no judicial review of this determination or any chance or relisting the gray wolf, even if the population numbers decline below the proposed numbers of a viable population.  The use of public and private funds used to restore this species will all be in vain if there is no chance of protections if their numbers were to fall again.  This is totally unacceptable, and any bill on its own would never have passed with the votes needed in either the House or the Senate.  This makes it even worse for the people who have worked for decades to restore this species, and the continued success of other species who may be determined to be "inconvenient" by our elected officials and our legislature.  

The fact remains, that this travesty has already occurred, even though the best possible science is stating a total trophic recovery of the ecosystem in areas where the wolf has been present for the past decade or more.  Yellowstone National Park is the best example of this fact when you look at the evidence of restored watersheds, healthier populations of undulates, and the return of many songbirds to the park.  
The gray wolf has a trophic effect on the whole environment since it is an apex predator.   Wolves cull undulate populations of the sick and diseased, leaving the strongest and fittest animals to prosper.  They also keep undulate populations from staying in one small area, preventing overgrazing, erosion of stream and river banks, and other damage to a portion of their range.  Then once that area is no longer suited for undulates, they move on to another area and do the same damage.  With the return of the gray wolf to YNP, the entire ecosystem has rebounded to a much healthier state.  This is their role in the environment and since the eradication of gray wolves in the 1930s, the ecosystem has been in a steady state of decline.   Even after seeing elk and deer die of starvation in and around YNP people still do not believe the wolf has a role in a complex ecosystem that will likely take many decades to fully recover from the absence of wolves for over 70 years.  This holds true for Montana and Idaho who are just barely seeing the benefits of wolves back in their natural habitat.
This evidence alone should be enough to dictate the protections needed by the ESA to the still recovering populations.  If you look at the facts instead of the negative rhetoric being used in the northwest against the gray wolf, then the choices should be clear to continue protecting the species as a whole and not by political boundaries, which was ruled illegal according to the ESA.  Even with the battles over the past few years, the negative comments and outright hatred of wolves has prevailed using scare tactics and misinformation for years.  When our own elected officials distort the facts to push this issue even further, it undermines the entire system to protecting a species.  
We have all heard for months, even years, about the devastation to the undulate populations across the northwest, when in fact, according to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) and Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG), the populations of elk alone are at or above the threshold of management numbers.  In a statement by Quentin Kujala, wildlife section chief of FWP dated September 29, 2010, "Elk numbers continue to be up in many portions of the state, especially central Montana."   Then take into account the livestock industry in the states, where they claim a decimation of their livestock numbers, when in fact, the numbers of depredations from gray wolves is less than the numbers of livestock losses to domesticated dogs.  Black bears, grizzly bears, coyotes and cougars combined, take more livestock than gray wolves, yet the gray wolf is being singled out. 
Another point that needs to be made is the fact that the science of the gray wolf is still being learned in the northwest.  For almost 70 years there was no population of wolves in the greater northwest.  During that time, undulate populations and other predators took over and the whole system in which they depended on had been out of balance. The numbers used to determine acceptable populations of elk and deer is out of date, due to the fact they weren%u2019t officially being counted until the middle of the  1970s when wolves were not even in the area at the time.  To say we have the best possible science today is a far cry from the research and data needed to determine the proper numbers of elk, deer, and even wolves.   It takes decades for certain species of plants and trees to grow to maturity and reproduce.  The gray wolf keeps undulates moving to allow saplings to grow, which in turn provides habitat for other species like song birds.  The birds in turn keep insect populations in balance, and could very well help to alleviate the problems of beetle damage to a major portion of the forests.  Then in turn, with the growth of the saplings, they provide even more shelter to squirrels who are the ones who distribute the tree nuts and other seeds to other parts of the forest and improve the genetic variability to tree species.  This in turn would help raptor populations by giving them a food source.  Even more benefits of the newly growing vegetation, especially along streams and river beds, is the fact that they provide shade and shelter to aquatic species, and also provide more of a food source from the insects that would essentially drop from the new growth into the waters.  The possibilities are endless when the ecosystem is full and intact, with proper balance created by none other than nature herself.   
Again, I will state that my confidence and trust in the people who are running this country is destroyed beyond belief.  This addition to the must pass bill was a desperate ploy for both Sen. Tester and Rep. Simpson to push their personal or political agenda against the gray wolf.  We the people, stand united, against such tyranny and will not let the people who allowed this to occur the decency of our respect or support from this day forth.  I write to you as a citizen of this state of Montana, disgraced to call myself a Montanan, and in fact, embarrassed to even call myself an American.  When such injustice and ignorance is allowed to prosper, I see no hope for the future or in the ones who claim they have my best intentions in mind.

Terrence Moyer
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